Navajo Lake Loop Trail
The Navajo Lake Loop Trail is a 9 mile circumnavigation of the 3.5 mile long shallow lake, formed when ancient lava flows dammed runoff in the narrow valley. I should be more specific and say the lake that’s 3.5 miles long when there’s water in it; when Terry and hiked the trail in early September there was no water on the east side of the dike and a large meadow at it’s west end which should have been underwater.
We picked up the loop trail at east, traversing a mile through the lava fields which host a good many berry bushes. Though it was a bit late in the season there hadn’t been a frost here yet and so we found a few stragglers to munch on just before the trail turns into the stands of aspen that line most of the lake’s northern shore. As we approached the dike we took a quick detour off trail down to water level then rejoined the path through aspens and fir trees.
As we approached the west end the trees that had been obstructing the views across the lake thinned and disappeared leaving us to cross open meadow. It was here, with a 360 degree view, that we could really see the toll taken by the spruce bark beetle which has sadly devastated much of the acreage of Dixie National Forest. Still, I found the mountains surrounding the valley to be beautiful even with the gray patches of dead wood. After crossing the west end meadows we ascended up The Saddle and walked the length of the lake through the cool, shaded firs. I had so enjoyed the sunnier sections of the trail on the opposite side of the lake, but these few miles of forested trail were hushed and felt enclosed – though there were plenty of places to peak through the curtains of trees down to the lake.